What’s to say that a blind man cannot see, or a deaf man cannot hear? Can a man with no legs run, and can a woman with no arms play basketball or swim? From the outside, people judge that all of this is impossible, when in reality, the word impossible is just ‘Im’ and ‘possible’ put together.
Look at the people who participate in the Special Olympics. These people have mental disabilities but in fact, they defy the odds each and every time they pick up a ball, run, or swing a bat. The Special Olympics is a chance for people with intellectual challenges to discover what they are capable of when given the opportunity to go beyond what society might say or believe.
With over four million athletes in more than 170 countries, the Special Olympics has been around for more than 43 years. They offer 32 Olympic-style sports for kids of every age. These sports are a vehicle to show what people with intellectual challenges can do. With about 200 million people with intellectual challenges worldwide, this event helps these people rise above intolerance and show the world that they can do anything they want to, just in a different way.
Take a look at some famous athletes who have proven they are capable. Jim Abbot, a one-handed professional baseball player, became one of the best pitchers during the early 1990s.
Terence Parkin, an Olympic swimmer, holds three national records in South Africa and also has a silver medal from the Sydney Olympics. It’s too bad he’s never heard the whistle or shot of a gun when races began. Parkin was born deaf and lived to become one of the best Olympic swimmers in South Africa.
In 1996, Marla Runyan, an Olympic Medalist for track, set several records at the Paralympics in Sydney. Runyan may not ever be able to tell you the color of your shirt, or what a daisy looks like, but being legally blind never stopped her from chasing after her dreams and running as fast as she can.
Due in part to the fact that she is partially blind and intellectually challenged, Loretta Claiborne wasn’t able to walk until the age of four. In 1996, ESPN awarded her with the ESPY Arthur Ashe Award for Courage. She currently holds the women’s record in her age group for the 5000 meter dash for 17 minutes.
Every athlete, no matter if they are physically or intellectually challenged, has to overcome a barrier during one point. The Special Olympics proves this point exactly. Whether that is a loss that defeats them, or an injury that slows them down, athletes have a heart that surpasses any obstacle thrown at them.
People with mental and physical challenges that dare to stand out, are the people I believe are true heros. Being a hero isn’t just about saving people, it’s about overcoming obstacles and proving to those who doubt you that no matter what disability a person may have, they are still capable of anything.
There are so many more examples I can give you of those who have gone beyond their disabilities, but why should I keep giving examples when I believe that you yourself can be one. Go ahead and defy people’s expectations, take risks, and never let society’s intolerance be a limitation to all the possibilities you can achieve. The only true hinderance you will ever have towards your own success will be the limitations that you set upon yourself.
People may judge those with disabilities because they’re different and thus, those people do not know how else to approach them with questions. I guarantee you that, just like those who participate in the Special Olympics, people will, in the end, admire those with disabilities, because they are the ones who dare to stand out.